Along with adding value and efficiency, John Butler, CEO of Beef Marketing Group (BMG), explains that successful alliance relationships become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more partners work together, the more they discover other opportunities by which they can benefit.

“We work continually to better understand what has value to our partners, and what we can do to contribute to that,” Butler says. He adds, “There continues to be opportunities for producers beyond their own segment that can provide benefit.”

BMG is a cattle feeding and marketing cooperative, with members in Kansas and Nebraska.

john butler on cattle industry alliances

“For us, alignment is about relationships rather than vertical integration. That takes a lot of trust,” Butler says. “In the partnership we’ve developed with Tyson, we provide them consistent cattle on a consistent basis, and we receive a competitive price ... We’re also working with Tylson to develop unique relationships with their customers.”

Both Friona and BMG help customers develop and sustain competitive product differentiation. At the same time, they verify the management that goes into growing and feeding the cattle that become the differentiated product.

“With verification, we’re bringing them something that has more value,” Butler says. “It’s not just us saying it, we’re verifying it.”

Especially with the high cost of beef compared to alternative consumer proteins, Herring says, “We have to validate the value proposition for the consumer.”


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“I think alliances are a prerequisite for our industry to be sustainable. Other proteins aren’t sitting on their hands,” Butler says.

Thinking about the sometimes bumpy and relatively short history of beef cattle alliances, Butler adds, “There have been a number of alliance attempts that have been frustrating. As an industry, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to building a better mousetrap, if that’s what it takes.”

Herring adds, “I think the alliance concept has to grow. It’s the future of the cattle business in this country, if there is going to be one.” 


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